How many Chinese tourists can the UK expect this summer?

January 17, 2023
By Helena Beard

This is the 64 million dollar question and nobody is really keen to make a prediction. So many forecasts were made during Covid and most turned out to be way off the mark, such is the unpredictability of China. Chinese travel market experts (including Guanxi and many others) got their fingers burned. But we never shy away from the difficult questions, so here’s our current (and we stress the word current) forecast for the year ahead based on all the insight we have at the time of writing, expecting flights to resume, no further unexpected Covid outbreak, and the political situation remaining as it is now. Subject to change, don’t hold us to it, etc etc…

2019 Actuals

In 2019, 883,000 visits were made to the UK from China. The breakdown across the arrival months were as follows according to VisitBritain statistics:

Q1 January to March = 119,000 or 13.5% of total visits

Q2 April – June = 206,000 or 23.3% of total visits

Q3 July – Sept = 388,000 or 44% of total visits

Q4 October – December = 169,000 or 19.2% of total visits

2023 Predictions

At Guanxi, we are forecasting the following for the year ahead. Read our insights in our News Section to find out how we have informed our thinking and please engage with us on LinkedIn if you agree/disagree.

Q1 January – March 2023 = 90% down on 2019 = 12,000 visits (almost entirely VFR, students, business travel)

Q2 April – June 2023 = 70% down on 2019 = 62,000 visits (some signs of leisure travel restarting, but still low numbers)

Q3 July – September 2023 AND Q4 October – December combined = 20% up on 2019 = 668,000 visits combined (strong bounce back with a bigger share of visits coming in the last Quarter than has previously been seen. The Summer months will still be the strongest, further augmented by high student travel at end September/early October).

Chart showing Chinese tourism market into the UK prediction 2023.
Chinese tourism market prediction into UK, 2023, Guanxi

And please don’t shoot us if we are wrong.

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